By John Ebbert, Managing Editor, AdExchanger.com.
[Cue the surf music.]
Within the recent demand-side platform (DSP) trend where advertisers effect buying strategies across multiple supply sources - and potentially hundreds of websites -, a growing list of companies and products is emerging to alleviate the risk of placing an ad on a page deemed inappropriate for the brand. Known as "risk management", it would be more accurate to identify the new category as "brand risk management."
"Risk management" sounds so exchange-y, don't you think? It must make the "art vs. science" crowd choke on their Cheerios as they continue to deny technology's benefits in the creation of ad campaigns.
Who's "Risking" It?
It would appear that at the very least a risk management solution includes a semantic or contextual understanding of a web page.
"Is my campaign's ad in porn?" This is the easy example that everyone gives for this space. But, it's much more nuanced than just porn placement prevention (PPP!) - and even exchanges are offering brand safety features which allow buyers to dial up or down the safety component. Companies in the space include DoubleVerify, AdSafe Media, OpenAmplify, LucidMedia, Peer39, Mpire, Brand.net and more.
These solutions may also address attributes such as "Is my ad above the fold?", "Was my user from the U.S.?", and "Can someone PLEASE look at ALL of my impressions, rather than sending me a screenshot of a couple of impressions at the end of a campaign?" You get it. But, what's driving this trend?
First - the agency.
The agency wants to grab the ad network's margin and the only way they're going to get it is to convince the agency's clients that buying across exchanges and multiple sources using the agency's DSP solution is the most effective use of their marketing budget. At the same time, the agency and the client-side see risk. How does the agency ensure that a brand disaster does not occur such as those publicized with Yahoo!'s Right Media Exchange? Here, the risk management company or solution could step in.
Next - the brand marketer.
Media digerati - do you want to see your fair share of cross-channel marketing budget such that it correlates with the time spent by consumers online? Well, you're going to need to convince the brand marketer.
For some, better attribution models will be part of this move online even though, it seems to me, digital already offers better attribution models than traditional channels, but that's a different column. If you can guarantee the brand marketer that her brand "baby" isn't going to wind-up next to a well-oiled nympho or in a World Of Warcraft etiquette forum, you will begin to see brand budgets heavy-up on their online display ad line items - especially those fire hose campaigns where it's all about reach.
The Buyer Publisher
Think the publisher would like to see brand dollars come online? As it stands now, they're the first stop for brand marketers who get to know exactly where they're running. But, as publishers look for new revenue sources, they develop products such as "reach extension" or remarketing using vertical ad networks or DSP-like buying across mutliple sites. Brand safety tools could become an important part of the toolkit.
Ad networks, too.
For certain ad networks, risk management tools may already be in-house but they will need to be placed front-and-center in the sales deck at the very least. Especially for ad networks that need to grow beyond their direct response clientele and reach a new, more brand-conscious clientele, a risk management solution or strategy will be essential as competitive pressures require brand safety bells and whistles.
Finally, the inevitable: regulation.
As this new DSP world is driven by advertising technology innovation, there will need to be rules and regulations.
Just as the world's financial markets require regulation to ensure the high-speed, successful and fair transaction of the stock of publicly-traded companies, so to will advertising increasingly require this structure, this management. Today's brand safety tools could be one such small step.
Did you buy the stock (the placement) that you thought you did? Some mechanism will need to unequivocally answer this question.